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Nov 28, 2006 10:11 PM

Baking soda tenderizer discovery

So last week I was preparing a beef vegetable stew and neglected it on the stove. When I returned, the meat had turned unbelievably tough... but then, I remembered my Chinese aunties using baking soda to tenderize their beef broccoli, so I dumped a tbsp of baking soda in, just to see what happened. Voila! Incredible. From hard lumps of cardboard to succulent, thready mouthfuls of beefy goodness. And the baking soda didn't change the quasi-beef bourguignone/red wine flavor of the broth, either. Anyone ever try this, or know why it works?

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  1. My guess is because Baking soda is basic and bases have a tendency to uncoil protein strands...this un-coiling may cause the overcooked/coiled protiens to disengage themselves, thus tenderize...The same reason you can't put bleach on a wool sweater, as the threads will uncoil and unthread themselves.

    1. I haven't tried using baking soda, but I just learned the trick of "velveting" meat before stir frying or grilling it. Holy smokes - what a difference!! The meat is soooo soft, tender and juicy.

      I have done this process with chicken, but haven't tried it with beef yet.

      I think I'll tuck your little secret away for future use as well, though. I've made a few meat dishes in the crockpot that had seen better days!! Thanks for the tip ;-)

      4 Replies
      1. re: BabyBee

        velveting before GRILLING??? that's a new one on me! you mean, tossing w flour and sauteeing first before grilling?

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Ooooooops! Sorry!!

          I just re-read my post - not grilling, I did mean to say "sauteeing". I use the velveting technique before i stir fry or saute the meat, usually for a Chinese recipe.

          Thanks ;-)

          1. re: BabyBee

            "Velveting"? Can you tell me how to do this? Is this why the beef at my favorite Chinese restaurant, although stir fried, still has such a nice softness?

            1. re: Marsha

              You betcha!! I have been experimenting with chinese cuisine at home and have been totally frustrated that my meat always curls up and no matter how thin I think I slice it, it never has the consistency of the meat at the chinese restaurant.

              SO ... here's the secret I was turned on to by the wonderful cooks/chefs from the recipezaar forum:


              It's really not that difficult - give it a try!!

      2. Check the sodium content of Baking Soda (bicarbonate of Sodium) before adding such a large amount to a dish.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Fleur

          huh, thanks Fleur. It never occured to me to check.

        2. The original comment has been removed